One Nation One Ration Card System

News: The Supreme Court has directed all states and UTs to implement the One Nation, One Ration Card system.

Background:

  • The fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution may be interpreted to include the right to live with human dignity, having the right to food and other basic necessities. There are around 38 crore workers engaged in the unorganized sectors (National Statistics Office (NSO) data of 2017-2018).
  • These unorganized workers did not have any permanent source of employment and have engaged themselves in small time vocations and occupations at various places away from their native places.
  • Contributions of these labourers towards different projects, industries, make considerable additions in the economic development of the country.
  • Criticized the Labour Ministry for not completing the work of the Rs 45.39-crore National Database for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) portal to register and identify migrant workers.
  • The Court had ordered the Ministry to finalise the NDUW module way back in 2018.
  • Directed the States/UTs to register establishments and license contractors under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 and ensure that they provide the authorities complete details of the workers employed with them.
  • Directed the Centre “to undertake exercise under Section 9 of the National Food Security Act, 2013” to re-determine the total number of persons to be covered under Rural and Urban areas of the State.

ONORC Scheme

  • The ONORC scheme is aimed at enabling migrant workers and their family members to buy subsidized ration from any fair price shop anywhere in the country under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
  • For instance, a migrant worker from will be able to access PDS benefits elsewhere in India, where he or she may have gone in search of work.
  • While the person can buy food grains as per his or her entitlement under the NFSA at the place where he or she is based, members of his or her family can still go to their ration dealer back home. To promote this reform in the archaic Public Distribution System (PDS), the government has provided incentives to states.

Implementation:

  • To promote this reform in the archaic Public Distribution System (PDS), the government has provided incentives to states. The Centre had even set the implementation of ONORC as a precondition for additional borrowing by states during the Covid-19 pandemic last year. At least 17 states, which implemented the ONORC reform, were allowed to borrow an additional Rs 37,600 crores in 2020-21.
  • ONORC is based on technology that involves details of beneficiaries’ ration card, Aadhaar number, and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).
  • The system identifies a beneficiary through biometric authentication on ePos devices at fair price shops.
  • The system runs with the support of two portals —Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) and Annavitran, which host all the relevant data.

Benefits:

  • Under the ONORC, the beneficiaries from one state can get their share of rations in other states where the ration card was originally issued.
  • ONORC will also give the beneficiaries the opportunity to opt for the dealer of their choice.
  • It will be particularly beneficial for women and other disadvantaged groups, given how social identity (caste, class and gender) and other contextual factors (including power relations) provide a strong backdrop in accessing PDS.
  • This will help achieve the target set under SDG (Sustainable development Goals) 2 (Ending hunger by 2030). Also, it will address the poor state of hunger in India, as highlighted by the Global Hunger Index, where India has been ranked 94 out of 107 countries.